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FSU football special teams boast a top national streak

And given the personnel we saw this spring, it's no surprise.

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

One of the defining moments of Florida State's 2013 national championship season came late in the title game's fourth quarter, when lightning-fast reciever Kermit Whitfield returned a kickoff 100 yards to give the 'Noles their first lead of the game. It's a play that has been burned into the memory of every FSU fan (and probably that of most Auburn supporters as well).

Granted, the Seminoles have not returned a kickoff for a score since. But that's nothing compared to Florida State's opponents' inability to do so against the 'Noles, which spans over a decade now. That's right: FSU has gone a nation's best 156 consecutive games without allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown. The last time it happened was in 2004, against Clemson, here in Tallahassee. And actually, it occurred twice in FSU's 41-22 win over the Tigers, as Clemson's Justin Miller took a first-quarter Xavier Beitia kickoff back 97 yards for a score and a third-quarter boot back 86 yards to pay dirt.

In fact, of late, the 'Noles have boasted one of the better coverage units in the country. In 2015, opponents averaged just 16.88 yards per return, good enough for a tie for sixth-lowest, nationally. In 2012, that figure was 16.62: only two schools allowed a lower average return.

One reason that Florida State has been so routinely effective on kickoff coverage is specialists like the outgoing Roberto Aguayo, who excelled at forcing opponents to receive and return kicks from within their own five, and often near the sideline, a defender which, to date, has still never missed a tackle. But also, the level of athlete FSU can trot out to run downfield shedding blocks in coverage weighs in as well.

We got a look at the starting kickoff team during the final spring practice open to media in 2016. Ricky Aguayo teed it up, with these players flanking him: Tarvarus McFadden, Marcus Lewis, Sh'Mar Kilby-Lane, Matthew Thomas, George Campbell, Nate Andrews, Ro'Derrick Hoskins, Trey Marshall, Derwin James, and Ryan Green. This will likely change some when all of the freshmen are on campus for fall camp, as Head Coach Jimbo Fisher loves using special teams as a way to get new faces some playing time. But seriously, ask yourself: if you're a player for the opposition, which one the players presently listed are you looking forward to blocking as he sprints at you with a full head of steam?